Q&A: Jeff Teague

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Friday, May 02, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of Dime

Dime: Do you get angry at all about the majority of press coverage focusing on the downfall of Indiana more so than Atlanta’s play?
Jeff Teague: We don’t really pay attention to it. We just focus on doing what we do on the floor.
Dime: Did you know you were going to match up this well, spreading the floor, taking Roy Hibbert out of it.
JT: We played them well in the regular season. We knew it was going to be a challenge because they’re a good team, but we’re a confident group. Any given night anybody can be beaten, but we knew we had to play really well to get a win at Indiana.
Dime: Talk a little bit about losing Al Horford and grinding out a playoff berth even after he went down.
JT: It was tough; [Al] was our go-to-guy, he was our leader. We played well without Al for a stretch, and then other guys got injured, like DeMarre[Carroll] went down, Paul went down. The injury bug got us. We couldn’t get in a rhythm or a groove. Then when we finally got healthy we won, I think, four in a row. And then everything just went bad again, and we started losing. But I know we had a certain amount of games we had to win just get into the playoffs, and that’s what we did. Got everybody at 100 percent and just focus on one team. When we can do that, we’re pretty good. Coach Bud[enholzer] is great at game-planning for a team. And right now I think we’re having a lot of success because of his ability to prepare for a single team.
Dime: What’s it been like with all the changes over the summer, specifically the new coach and signing the offer sheet in Milwaukee before Atlanta matched it. Were you at all hesitant about the changes coming into this year?
JT:I would say so. I didn’t know what to expect, since I’ve been playing my whole time in Atlanta. So I was open to new experiences [in Milwaukee], and I told them that I was open to that. I knew Budenholzer from San Antonio, so I was excited, but I was happy to stay in town.
Dime: Do you think you can be an all-star next year?
JT: Uhh, that doesn’t matter. I just want to get better each year [he has: his PER has improved in every season he's been in the league], and I want the team to get better. I just want to win; I’m all about winning and I think we’re heading in the right direction with this team.
Dime: What’s the mindset going into Thursday? Obviously you guys are amped, but are you expecting Indiana to come out on fire with their backs against the wall?
JT: It’s the playoffs, so we just take it one game at a time…they’re the No. 1 seed for a reason, and they’re gonna come out fighting. It’s gonna be a hard-fought game, but we just gotta continue to do what we’ve been doing and take it one game at a time.
Dime: Do you think that’s why you’re playing so well this series? The fact you’re underdogs?
JT: There’s no pressure right now. We just play and have fun. I think our whole group just has fun. I don’t think any of our players are worried about that, or what they have to do. We’re just playing, having fun and enjoying the moment.
[…]
That’s how we play, though, Mike keeps it fun and loose. We continue to do what we’ve been doing all season: we wanna play fast, we wanna shoot three’s, and we want to defend. I mean, you can just play with no pressure on. I don’t think many people expected much from us, so we just wanted to come out and give them a good fight.
Dime: Besides Mike [Budenholzer] keeping things loose, how has he made you a better player this season?
JT: He’s made me a better overall player. He really pushed me on the defensive end. And at times I can make plays off that. Really all of my game: being a better defender, being more aggressive, not taking plays off, always attacking. I think that helped my game a lot this year.
Dime: Anything specific he taught you on the defensive end?
JT: Just attacking on the defensive end like I attack on the offensive end. I’m aggressive on offense, I attack the lane, which puts the pressure on the other guard, you know? Getting into passing lanes and using my speed to attack on the defensive end.
Dime: Have you noticed, because Paul has improved as a shooter, and you guys have so many guys who can spread the floor, that there’s more room in the lane when you come around on that high-screen?
JT: Yeah definitely. They’re always concerned about Pero [Antic] shooting threes, Paul having the ability to stretch the floor; having Kyle[Korver] on the wing and you can’t leave him. Me, Shelvin [Mack], Lou[Williams] just drive it right at the basket.
Dime: Do you think part of your success is the fact you aren’t beholden to a single superstar to carry your team?
JT: Yeah, I think it’s fun to play, I’ll tell you that. It’s fun to play with unselfish guys. Guys who just want to win and guys who enjoy playing with one another. I think we get a kick out of, like 31 assists a game as a team. We get a kick out of everyone scoring baskets and everyone having fun. And it’s fun to play like that.
Dime: Is there a guy that keeps it loose in the locker—room — like a team jester?
JT: I would say myself. On court I’m not, but in the locker-room I talk a lot. I’m a jokester; I like to have fun. Mike Scott‘s a jokester, Lou Williams — everybody is pretty laid back, calm, just enjoying the time; not putting too much pressure on themselves. You can see it, and it’s fun to be around.
Dime: Any pranks?
JT: We prank Dennis [Shroder], the rookie. We saran-wrapped his car, and Lou put whip cream all over it. It was pretty funny, but he was good about it; he didn’t take it too personal or anything.
Dime: You’ve become dangerous enough for opposing defenses to game plan for you. Has the extra attention hindered you at all?
JT: My field goal percentage is OK, but my 3-point — I struggled in the beginning of the year, so it was tough. I had a wrist injury coming out of training camp, so it was tough…it was tough shooting the basketball. But I got an opportunity to work with the coaches after-hours to get my shots up and it came along.
[On his early-season injury] We were playing in an Oakland gym right before training camp started, and I went up and was under-cut. I landed on my wrist, and I strained it. For a while I struggled to shoot the basketball and I went to the lane a lot…I wouldn’t take jump shots. But as the season went along and my wrist got better, my shooting got better…and I was shooting the three-ball a lot better [Teague shot below 20 percent from 3-point range in November and January, wedged around a blip of 40 percent shooting in December, but he was above 38 percent in February and March and above 40 percent in April, per NBA.com]
Dime: Dime has a lot of sneakerhead readers. What are your top 5 sneakers of all time?
JT: Off the head the Jordan VI.
Dime: What are some other ones? You really like the Jordan’s?
JT: I like them. I’m an adidas guy now, but I like the Jordan’s, they’re a good shoe. I like the Jordan VI’s. I like the Foamposites. I was a big fan of the Barkley’s when I was in high school. I loved the Barkley’s, my whole school wore them. I got the Penny Hardaway‘s. I love the Kobe 1, and of course adidas. I got a lot of shoes.
Dime: How many pairs do you have right now? Just an estimate.
JT: Ahhh, man. I had to give a lot of Nike’s away when I signed with adidas. But if I include those, it would be close to like 4,000 maybe.
Dime: 4,000!!!! WOW!
JT: Yeah. I’ve had shoes for…years. By years, I mean I got shoes from high school.
Dime: So you never get rid of them?
JT: Never. I got the first LeBron’s, I got all of them.
Dime: 4,000, wow. Well, we’ve seen Nick Young has his own room for all his kicks, where do you keep all them?
JT: I got a room at my house here in Atlanta. And I got a house in Indiana, where I got a room above my mom’s garage.
Dime: We’re still blown away by 4,000. How do you even decide what to wear when you go out?
JT: It got to the point where I was just getting them. I had a Nike deal, and anything that came out, I was getting them. I’d just click on it and click on it, and every day I was getting like two pairs of shoes. Out of boredom almost. You know, adidas, the supply they give you is just ridiculous. I probably got close to 500 pairs. It’s ridiculous.
Dime: Are you doing any PE’s with them.
JT: I don’t think so, no…not yet.
Dime: You keep playing the way you do that might change.
JT: I don’t know about that, but we’ll see.